Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Laniakea 1969: A Tribute to Eddie Aikau", by Bill Powers

(Map Source: Shark's Cove, North Shore)

"LANIAKEA 1969: A Tribute to Eddie Aikau", by Bill Powers
(Copyright Bill Powers 2010. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission.)

The local knowledge tip for LANI was that it was normally bigger than it looked from the beach. If you were trying to decide which board to use, take the bigger one. LANI was one of the most fickle spots on the North Shore. The rumor about LANI was that when every place was kind of a wrong direction, check LANI. If its ON, you will never forget it.

So one day some of my friends came up from Haleiwa to check Sunset. They said that LANI not only had the best shape but it was twice as big as the other spots. I knew then that this was the day to leave Sunset and check LANI. I loaded up my new 8 foot Gun and headed on down to LANI. I get there and my friends were right. For some reason it was Twice as Big as any of the other spots. I see three people out and they're sitting in a different spot than I had ever seen. Then I saw a full set was just outside of the three guys out. Turns out they were in the right spot as all three of them got a wave. The size and length of the walls were impressive. These folks were running for their lives to get across The Big Walls that went all the way to the very large Rip that separates Laniakea from Himalayas.

After watching it some more I jumped into the rip with my new red gun. After several minutes, I was close enough to see that the three guys out were Eddie Aikau and his brother Clyde, along with another Hawaiian. They did not know who I was, but everybody on the North Shore knew who they were. They were Legends and I was about to find out why! Just then a full set took over the horizon. I was still clear of the impact area. The Hawaiians were inside and just off the peak. They all moved at the wave. Eddie lets the first wave go and paddles over to the second wave and he suddenly pivots and buries his tail in the trough and gets fed (backwards) up the face of the wave and then he goes to his feet while still talking and laughing with the other two guys. Next thing you know, Eddie pulls off one of the most radical no paddle take offs I had ever seen and on a wave big enough to bring the look of fear out in anyone that owns a surfboard.

To see the casualness of the Hawaiians in such large surf is something that is still clear in my mind over 40 years later.


For more information on Eddie Aikau, see the wikipedia article online at:


Thanks Bill! Keep writing and we will keep on publishing. Maybe some of the other retired O.L's will step up now and share their stories of and about the ocean.

(Photo above shows Bill looking over his notebook of stories at home in Mammoth Lakes with his golden retriever, LR, December 2010. Photo by Will Maguire.)

(Photo above shows a Classic (L.A.) City Guard Secret Handshake and City Guard Rules; Author unknown. Use here courtesy of Bill Powers.


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